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‘Tis the Season to be Overwhelmed

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time for us to start our holiday planning in earnest. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Festivus, or a little bit of everything,, it is the busiest time of year for most of us. This year, we don’t have the added scheduling of holiday concerts and the rehearsals that go along with them, which is a mixed blessing, especially for those of us who earn a large chunk of our performing income at this time of the year.

On the one hand, we can relax a little bit and focus on preparing for the holidays without the excuse of “I can’t, I have a gig.”

On the other hand, we can’t get out of preparing for the holidays with the excuse of “I can’t, I have a gig.” (Plus that part about the “large chunk of our performing income at this time of year.”)

I recently completed Seth Godin’s The Creative’s Workshop, which was a dynamic experience involving 100 days of working toward a specific creative goal or goals. In my case, it was developing the musical theater history and performance class that I just wrapped up last weekend, as well as ruminating on the development of the Great American Songbook course and concert that we will be presenting on World Voice Day. (More to come about that very soon!)

During the course, one of the coaches, Scott Perry said that “the flip side of overwhelm was opportunity.” That resonated with me, but I didn’t quite know what it meant. I wrote it down, intending to look it up later. I did this morning, and found this article by business coach Roberta Ryan. There were several quotes in here that spoke to me. They were:

  • What if being overwhelmed is not something one gets over, but something to celebrate?
  • What if inner peace is not a destination, but trusting that you can handle whatever comes your way?
  • With forethought and diligence, …. it is possible to thrive inside the delightful frenzy of ideas, celebrate feeling overwhelmed, and, most importantly, trust the process.

All of which comes out of the idea of stretching your comfort zone and “that mix of feeling curious, anxious, and excited.” [bold mine]

Being overwhelmed and having too much to do – but knowing that you can do it – is building trust in yourself. In the case of Roberta Ryan, it’s in running her business. For us, it’s the same – our business is that of being an artist.

The important thing is to face that overwhelm with “forethought and diligence.” Know what you have to do and plan for it, so that the overwhelm isn’t rushing from one thing to another, but is done with anticipation of all that is ahead, and all that you will be learning from the experience and taking to create new experiences.

Even in overwhelm, you need to find balance. And also determine what is serving you as a person and as an artist. Are you doing something that no longer fulfills you as an artist? Is it a temporary feeling or has it been going on awhile? Can you do without it (assuming it’s not part of your curriculum, if you’re a student)? Or, if it’s a major part of your income, can you pivot and find another source of income?

For many of us who have been without performing this past nearly 9 months, we’ve become very good at pivoting. I suspect I’ll be addressing that subject somewhere down the road….

Thanks to Sela McMullen for this ornament!

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Curious about developing your voice? A little anxious about the process? Excited to be trying something new? Sounds like just the kind of student I’d like to work with. Contact me to talk about lessons and set up a Vocal Discovery Session.

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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